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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Of tortoises and hares and GEDs: The importance of a high school diploma



Students who take more than four years to earn a standard diploma do better "in every aspect of life" than high school dropouts or those who earn GEDs, and states should get more credit for getting those students to the finish line, says a national report released this morning.

The Better Late Than Never report, from the Center for Public Education, an arm of the National School Boards Association, says a study of outcomes eight years after graduation shows that those students don't do as well as students who finish on time. But they're significantly more likely than GED recipients to:

  • Earn college degrees.
  • Hold full-time jobs.
  • Have health insurance.
  • Be less likely to smoke.

Why should we care? Because a fair number of students are late graduates (at least a few thousand a year in Florida), and because accountability systems like No Child Left Behind don’t give schools credit for getting them through.

There's no hard evidence that schools are shrugging off those students, CEP policy analyst Jim Hull told the Gradebook in an e-mail. But "if schools were given credit for graduating these students they are more likely to put more resources into these students," he wrote.

"Because just like the saying when it comes to testing 'what gets tested gets taught,' when it comes to graduation rates 'which graduates get counted will get more attention.' "

The CPE report says 4.6 percent of all high school graduates in 1992 were late, with much higher rates for black students (11 percent) and Hispanic students (8 percent). The report doesn’t offer a state-by-state breakdown, so we'll also link to the DOE's report comparing Florida’s four- and five-year grad rates.

Ron Matus, State Education Reporter


[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:14am]


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